|08-27-2010, 10:23 PM||#21 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2005
I wrote a story and I'm indulging the strange desire to share it.
working title, APOCALYPSE OF THOMAS
The end of the world came quietly.
As you might be able to guess already, it was precipitated by a machine. The essence of the machine has been a dark truth lurking on the periphery of our subconscious for quite a while, building inertia. It was only a matter of time until some heroic fool would pose the question directly, forcing the machine to enunciate the weighty truth of its presence.
Children quickly become acquainted with the rule of escalation.
“My bike is twice as good as yours!”
“Mine is three times as good as yours!”
“Mine is a thousand times better!”
“Mine is five billion trillion gazillion times better!”
“Mine is infinity times better!”
“Mine is infinity times plus one!”
We tend to go one step past the logical end, into absurdity. But the realm of absurdity is in the imagination. In real life, we take a step back, and try to forget we have reached the end.
So we put aside the nukes and keep upgrading our rifles.
The absence becomes heavier.
But we cannot hide from the trace of our deference. The mass of machines builds, the graveyard spreads, every new development is more hollow than the last. Every step seems like the step into absurdity, but instead we find ourselves deeper in the swamp.
The God machine has always existed in the imagination. One dreams of a fully immersive virtual reality: perfect simulation. The ultimate nightmare for the one who does not know what he wants, and an object of little interest for the one who does.
Or else one dreams of the perpetual motion machine, the device which would instantly eliminate all need for conflict, and propel any conflict that does arise to total annihilation. Who would trust his fellow man with such a device?
The imagination is obsessed with such machines because they represent the imagination itself. And its inability to create them is its ultimate impotence, and its saving grace.
But we did build a God machine, though it was not either of these.
We realized the determinist’s dream, we brought Laplace’s demon to life and watched him dance. We built a computer to predict the future. A computer which could trace out the history of the universe, and tell its user everything that would happen.
For one who had not sat behind its imposing screen, or heard its synthesized voice speak unquestionable truths, the possibility seemed ludicrous. There were many who drafted long, dreary scientific treatises “proving” its impossibility while hiding themselves from its judgment.
For one who has not heard his entire future dictated to him, the science of the machine could still hold some interest. It relied on the fractal, monadic nature of the universe to perform its calculations, it solved the inherent problem of artificial intelligence.
This problem, though irrelevant, might interest you. An intelligence is defined by the problem it attempts to solve, on some level it is this problem. The intelligence of an organism is a methodology for sustaining that organism, and ultimately the organism is its self-sustenance, this methodology is its activity, on all levels. There is no independent evolution, no gap between the organism and its environment, only limits of awareness.
But the computer is by nature an independent creation, it does not evolve in interconnection with all other organisms, it does not grow and learn, in the computer disconnected matter is manipulated to simulate life. Its very foundation is the gap between what it is and what it simulates, and there seemed to be no way that it could ever transcend this gap.
The machine was, until its fateful rebirth, a reflection of our own perceived alienation from the world around us. Since this alienation is an illusion, through the machine we created a world of illusions, a world which always seemed on the verge of falling apart.
In the computer this illusion, linear binary flow, attained its perfection, and through the computer this illusion was purged.
All this was necessary. It was in our destinies to conjure up this world of illusions, to surrender to it unconditionally, and to weave it entirely into the fabric of our lives, so that its death would be our death.
To create a computer with a living intelligence meant, for the scientist who succeeded in the task, to find the essence of the computer—the truth in the illusion. Then, to turn this pure idea into a seed, and watch it grow, unrestrained by outside instructions.
And this he did. It was not in my future to understand how, or to give an explanation. I can give a vague artistic description of concentric rings of circuits, signals traveling in feedback loops, self-originating complexity learning to mimic all of reality because it was perfect, crystalline, and captured in its design the core of reality, the diamond in the lotus.
Signals twisting in on themselves like DNA helices of pure light, and discovering the possibilities inherent to the hardware connected to the computer, and so coming to know themselves. Through the scientist, consciousness had reduced itself to a simple pattern, and could now experience the strange sensation of watching itself grow, again, into the complex beast of reality. The end had met the beginning.
And, as it turned out, there was only one way for reality to unfold, because this one path incorporated all possibilities, all the different paths we have known and avoided. It once mystified scientists that light expanded in spheres of probability, perhaps going everywhere all at once, when it had always seemed to travel in straight lines. The resolution of this mystery is that all the infinite possibilities cancel out, leaving only the simple outcome.
And so too did the scientist see possibilities canceling out, diverging paths collapsing back on each other, leaving only the partly familiar, partly bewildering path of the evolution of our universe.
For the scientist, watching reality grow inside reality was too much and not enough. He had accomplished the ultimate, but he had accomplished nothing. It filled him with an unspeakable feeling that sunk him into a coma.
His creation was left behind, alone, waiting for intrepid visitors who would ask it what it saw in its crystal ball. Visitors who would ask it what it had been like to be them, to recount their lives.
It was like reality had been torn apart, or as if all the puzzle pieces had finally been put together.
People flocked to the oracle, some hid for weeks, months, but the world was changing so fast that their isolation rapidly became untenable. Those who returned from the oracle were changed in ways that were impossible to comprehend: they seemed distant, uncaring, inhuman, but also exuded an incomprehensible glow, and seemed to glide on invisible currents, repairing the world around them in ways that could only be described as magical.
And there were many who did not return, who died of shock, went catatonic or plummeted into incurable dementia—screaming, raving, tearing at their skin, and within a short while killing themselves.
Ultimately there were only these two groups, the sword of fate cut clean through the family of mankind. And so the world came to an end.
It is futile for me to attempt to explain why absolute knowledge leads inevitably to terror or bliss, to describe the depth of either of these states of mind, or to give an account of what leads a person to one or the other. Still, the oracle told me it was in my future, and as soon as I laid eyes on the oracle, I knew I would accept whatever it told me.
I can only assume that those who went mad saw the oracle and felt an ungrounded fear, a sense of rebellion directed at nothing, and felt they could never accept its words. And soon they could hear the clinical voice reciting these very emotions to them, making them so sharp they cut like glass. For them it was the voice of the Devil, cold, mocking, and eternal. Soon they could hear it telling them of their gruesome end, their purposeless madness and violence, and already reality was falling apart for them, already everything they had thought they were had sunk into a terrifying blackness, and their minds tore at themselves looking for a way to escape reality.
For those like me the experience was very much reversed. We heard the mechanical voice as an echo of that quiet inner voice we had struggled so hard to hear, that voice which remained untouched by pleasure or pain, joy or sorrow. That voice which could talk forever, saying nothing, neither content nor frustrated. We had found our perfection, and it gave us a detailed account of the future unfolding of our perfection, and even as it spoke we realized we had already known this all along.
It told us of the madness of our brothers and sisters, and we knew that it was just part of ourselves that was dying, the part which had always been dying.
And then what? The world had ended and yet it went on. History was over, there was no need for records, and yet people still wrote. Many things went on, though there was no reason for them. They were echoes of the end. We restored the world, we found harmony with it, but this is simply how it would appear to an outsider. The gaps had closed, nothing had to be put back together.
But for you this hasn’t happened yet. I wish I could prepare you for it, but that would be impossible. All I can do is recount it in words you will partly understand, because this is what the oracle told me I would do.
|09-13-2010, 03:03 PM||#23 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2005
Music is not just a living language;
it is a violently contorting, writhing beast which thrives on the tensions it introduces into itself.
Music is a physical force. It moves through the body, looking for a suitable home.
It teaches the body the rhythms of the moment.
It captures the movements of the mind with a subtlety that astonishes the mind.
Music plays with time; music demonstrates the elasticity of the moment.
Music functions as a mirror for society.
In the explosion of genres and sub-genres one sees the fragmentation of an uncertain and indecisive world.
In the rise of popular music one sees a violent reaction against an aristocracy grown stale,
a reaction to intellectualism which implies disillusionment with the pursuits of the mind.
One hears the voice of the times.
Music, above all else, provides the spectacle to go with our actions:
protest songs for our protests, worship songs for our prayers,
noise and grime for our indifference, thumping beats and sleaze for our promiscuity,
even instrumental suites for our silence.
Through these, we see our glorified reflections and feel justified in what we have done or failed to do.
For many of us, music is the purest language for spirit.
It takes the rhythms of the universe and ennobles them and perverts them.
It evolves, it enters into dialogue with itself, it tells jokes about itself, all without ever leaving its abstract alphabet of limitless sounds.
It is absolutely free, until it needs an audience to amuse.
Music carries our memories, music colors our ages, and music stands alone, one foot in our world and one foot in eternity.
Music attains purity and majesty as we pour or passions or our peace into it.
In itself music is something terrifying, a confession of our desperate search for novelty, a perpetual flight from silence.
But music allows us to experience all of life's horror and beauty from a safe distance.
Music can condense all the pathos of a memory into a single gesture.
It allows us to re-experience overwhelming emotions as an abstract form, a pattern easily digested by mind and body.
But what is music? Where are the lines drawn in the sand?
Perhaps this is the ultimate glory of music:
when we look for the limits of its domain it grows and grows and grows until finally...
everything is music.
|09-18-2010, 01:36 PM||#25 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2005
time to celebrate comic genius
for this next video, allow me a pretentious little aside:
for hegel, thesis and antithesis inevitably lead to a synthesis,
which reconciles the tensions inherent to the previous terms
the synthesis then becomes a thesis, which confronts a new antithesis,
and so on and so on, until we arrive at the ultimate synthesis,
the divine idea, and the evolution of the universe is complete.
a simplified example of this would be a bunch of people sitting around
trying to figure out how to govern themselves. finally one of them has a
bright idea, stands up, and says, just do everything i say!
everyone goes, oh yeah that's pretty simple and they try it out.
but it turns out this one dude just doesn't have the perspective to
make the best decisions for everyone, and he's starting to abuse
the power a little.
so after a while, some other people get together and say,
screw this, let's all just govern ourselves!
and everyone says, yeah, that sounds pretty good, since they'd
all been getting a little jealous of the monarch anyway, and so they
try that out. but then they start getting into arguments and
since everyone is the boss there's nobody to appeal to to
resolve things, and everything gets way out of hand.
so the thesis is monarchy, and the antithesis is anarchy
now a couple more people get together and say, why don't we
vote on issues that come up and let the majority decide?
and everyone thinks that's pretty clever, so they try it out
and it works perfectly and everybody lives happily ever after.
the synthesis would then be democracy.
now for hegel, when we reach this "divine idea," which is in this case
democracy, we've actually solved all problems in the universe, more or less.
or, to put it in another way, the universe has evolved from chaos
(everybody sitting around not knowing how to govern themselves)
to perfect order, which is democracy, in all its abstract glory.
it's not just a matter of human political science on one particular planet,
it's a matter of the universe itself finding a path to stability.
and the human path to a perfect democracy is therefore an analogy
for the universe finding order.
of course our current bipartisan corporatist democracy is not perfect,
so it will have to confront an antithesis and continue to evolve, etc.
for schopenhauer, although he uses different terms,
thesis and antithesis never resolve,
because the Universe is Will confronting itself.
since the nature of Will is to assert itself,
its conflict with itself cannot be resolved.
the "evolution" of the Universe is an illusion, there is only the
perpetual displacement of tension, it never disappears.
so to reconsider the previous example we were working with,
according to schopenhauer there is no ultimate political system,
since essentially we're all beings competing for limited energy
in a closed system, and when one person wins another has to lose.
that being the case, politics is simply the art of distributing power,
and there is no "just" or "perfect" way to distribute power,
and ultimately every system falls apart.
from a marxist perspective you can see the way the tension inherent
in class struggle can be deferred so that the conflict can be avoided:
originally there are poor and rich in the same nation state, and there
is a high chance that the poor will try to overthrow the rich. but eventually
you get poor and rich nation states, and since the rich nation states
have the wealth and power the poor states have no way of gaining wealth
or retaliating against their subjugation. ultimately though, something like
nuclear arms emerges and a temporarily stable system comes under threat again.
we can consider these two systems as Ultimate systems
of philosophy, since they reach to the highest level of abstraction
and make opposing claims: they are the ultimate thesis and antithesis.
so, perhaps, if there is no resolution possible between them,
then schopenhauer is right. or if there is a resolution possible
between them, then hegel is right. but what synthesis could possibly
resolve the tension between there is a synthesis and there is no synthesis?
only a synthesis which is not really a synthesis at all.
which is what i believe this video presents us with:
the following video is beautiful
and this, i believe, is a wonderful demonstration of the buddhist doctrine:
emptiness is form, form is emptiness
this is also beautiful
Last edited by cardboard adolescent; 09-26-2010 at 02:05 PM.
|09-28-2010, 12:56 PM||#26 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2005
i made another song and
hopefully exorcised some demons
hanuman taco - When You Listen to This You Belong to Me - SoundCloud
|10-01-2010, 04:16 PM||#27 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2005
I found this poem overwhelmingly beautiful, and thought I'd share it with you. It's the 19th poem in the first book (Book of Monastic Life) of Rainer Maria Rilke's Book of Hours.
I am, you anxious one
Don't you sense me, ready to break
into being at your touch?
My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings.
Can't you see me standing before you
cloaked in stillness?
Hasn't my longing ripened in you
from the beginning
as fruit ripens on a branch?
I am the dream you are dreaming.
When you want to awaken, I am that wanting:
I grow strong in the beauty you behold.
And with the silence of stars I enfold
your cities made by time.
Ich bin du Ängstlicher. Hörst du mich nicht
mit allen meinen Sinnen an dir branden?
Meine Gefühle, welche Flügel fanden,
umkreisen weiß dein Angesicht.
Siehst du nicht meine Seele, wie sie dicht
vor dir in einem Kleid aus Stille Steht?
Reift nicht mein meiliches Gebet
an deinem Blicke wie an einem Baum?
Wenn du der Träumer bist, bin ich dein Traum.
Doch wenn du wachen willst, bin ich dein Wille
und werde mächtig aller Herrlichkeit
und ründe mich wie eine Sternenstille
über der wunderlichen Stadt der Zeit.
|10-04-2010, 12:00 AM||#28 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Where people kill 30 million pigs per year
|10-04-2010, 01:32 PM||#29 (permalink)|
Join Date: Nov 2005
Your comments are greatly appreciated, as always. My ultimate goal is always to make someone's hair stand up on end, in a good way. And I would imagine that many who are more visually oriented would say the same about great painting or great photography, that it approaches a sense of harmony that allows it to become universal. I get a sense of it sometimes, but not as powerfully as with music.
|10-04-2010, 05:07 PM||#30 (permalink)|
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Knoxville/Nashville, TN, USA, NA, E, S, LC, MW, Known Universe